What is Collaborative Law?

The collaborative law process is an alternative to litigating family disputes such as divorce, child custody and child support.  Collin County divorce attorneys explain that instead of bringing their differences to court, parties sign a "Collaborative Law Participation Agreement" that establishes the guidelines of the collaborative process.  The agreement establishes timelines, as well as notes the commitments of a team of mutually selected experts, including mental health and financial experts, and both parties' attorneys. 

The participation agreement forbids any of the team from being involved in any future litigation should the collaborative process reach an impasse and the need for litigation arise.  The exclusion of the collaborative law team from participation in any future litigation is a strong incentive for the parties to settle their disputes within the collaborative law framework.

When is the Collaborative Process the Right One?

In addition to entering into a participation agreement as described above, parties wishing to use the collaborative law process for their divorce issues must agree to treat each other with civility, dignity and respect.  Collin County divorce attorneys emphasize that the parties must also agree to concentrate on interest-based negotiations and not positional bargaining. 

In addition, parties must agree to full and honest disclosure of financial and other information.  If both parties cannot agree to these three principles of negotiations, then the collaborative process is not appropriate for them.  The whole premise of the process is to foster an environment conducive to resolving conflict and finding custom-made solutions that truly fit both parties' needs.  If a party is not negotiating based on interests but rather based on animosity, or if there are issues of abuse and family violence, the best forum may be the court system.

The Three C's 

Collaborative law offers several advantages over litigation.  A few of the most notable benefits are referred to as the "three C's:" confidential, convenient and controlled.  Unlike litigation, the collaborative process occurs in a private setting; the parties' settlement discussions, financial documents, mental health evaluations and recommendations, and child custody and support negotiations are all kept private rather than being held in a public courtroom and preserved on a public record.  In the collaborative process, the only things made public are documents filed with the court for its approval, such as divorce decrees, property settlements, or final decisions regarding child custody and support. 

Precisely because the collaborative process does not occur in the courtroom, the parties can set their own schedule for negotiations, hearings and documents.  Thus, the second "C" is for convenient since setting the schedule is preferable to following a court-mandated one.  

The third "C" for control encompasses the whole idea of the collaborative law process.  By encouraging parties to treat each other with respect, to negotiate constructively and honestly, and to work toward a common goal of conflict resolution, the collaborative process gives the parties control over their dispute.

If you have questions about the collaborative law process, or if you would like to know if it is right for you, contact the Collin County divorce attorneys at Nordhaus Walpole, PLLC right away.